China’s finance minister tried Thursday to dispel complaints its Belt and Road infrastructure-building initiative leaves developing countries with too much debt, promising “sustainable financing” as leaders gathered to celebrate the project.
Developing nations have welcomed the initiative to increase trade by building ports and other facilities in a region the Asian Development Bank says needs $26 trillion of investment by 2030 to keep economies growing. But countries including Malaysia and Thailand have canceled or scaled back projects due to high costs, while some others are struggling to repay Chinese loans.
Chinese lenders have provided $440 billion in financing, according to the country’s central bank governor, Yi Gang, who spoke at the event with Liu Kun.
Source: China faces debt fears ahead of construction forum
The Russian government is one step away from essentially cutting its population off from the global internet. The controversial “sovereign internet law” passed last week by the legislature’s upper house needs only President Vladimir Putin’s signature to require online traffic to pass through servers run by the government’s internet regulation agency by 2021, allowing the Kremlin to much better observe and control what Russian citizens are doing.
Putin has long talked up the idea of a firewalled Russian internet, claiming that his government needs a better defense against cyber attacks from the West.
“But it’s more likely motivated by the Kremlin’s desire to control the flow of information online,” said Justin Sherman, Cybersecurity Policy Fellow at New America.
The new law is the latest and most far-reaching legal action to limit Russians’ ability to interact with the outside world.
Earlier such moves curbed access to Western social media services such as Linkedin and messaging services such as Zello.
Source: Russians Will Soon Lose Uncensored Access to the Internet – Defense One
.. They have found a perfect partner in digital computation, a seemingly knowable, controllable, machine-based system of thinking and creating that is rapidly increasing in its ability to harness and process complexity and, in the process, bestowing wealth and power on those who have mastered it.
In Silicon Valley, the combination of groupthink and the financial success of this cult of technology has created a feedback loop, lacking in self-regulation (although #techwontbuild, #metoo and #timesup are forcing some reflection).
On an S-curve or a bell curve, the beginning of the slope looks a lot like an exponential curve. According to systems-dynamics people, however, an exponential curve shows a positive feedback curve without limits, self-reinforcing and dangerous.
Source: Forget about artificial intelligence, extended intelligence is the future
One problem is that the older the period the more chances there are for its material production to be destroyed. Across Lotharingia [ed. note: one of three filial kingdoms born of the Carolingian Empire] there has been century after century of rebuilding (with the re‐use of every available piece of old dressed stone) with most evidence of earlier churches and palaces removed in the process.
So great is the weight of “the Dark Ages” on our shoulders that it is almost impossible not to think of the makers of this wonky church slithering about on the mud floor cursing the way the roof was leaking and how nobody could design a door that shut properly, resigned to the occasional fiasco when the walls would simply fall in on the gurning, fur‐clad, battle‐axe‐wielding communicants.
In practice, these now non‐existent buildings would have been extremely beautiful—drawing on Roman and Byzantine models, and stuffed with all kinds of wonderful stuff from the Roman Empire which now no longer exists.
Source: The ‘Dark Ages’ Weren’t As Dark As We Thought
As they prepare to vote in the most uncertain national election in decades, Spaniards can safely predict one thing regardless of political persuasion – that their next prime minister will be young, cosmopolitan, white and male.
The main contenders in Sunday’s ballot offer a lack of diversity that has left parts of the electorate at risk of feeling unrepresented, political commentators say. Surveys show up to four in ten voters are still undecided and no single party is close to winning a majority.
Source: The city crowd: young, urbane PM awaits Spain, whoever wins election – Reuters
China’s powerful military is considered to be a master at concealing its intentions. But there is no secret about how it plans to destroy American aircraft carriers if rivalry becomes war.
At November’s biennial air show in the southern city of Zhuhai, the biggest state-owned missile maker, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Ltd, screened an animation showing a hostile “blue force,” comprising an aircraft carrier, escort ships and strike aircraft, approaching “red force” territory.
On a giant screen, the animation showed a barrage of the Chinese company’s missiles launched from “red force” warships, submarines, shore batteries and aircraft wreaking havoc on the escort vessels around the carrier. In a final salvo, two missiles plunge onto the flight deck of the carrier and a third slams into the side of the hull near the bow.
The fate of the ship is an unmistakable message to an America that has long dominated the globe from its mighty aircraft carriers and sprawling network of hundreds of bases.
Source: Xi Jinping’s Rocket Force is nullifying U.S. military primacy in Asia
Russian President Vladimir Putin said after holding his first face-to-face talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday that U.S. security guarantees would probably not be enough to persuade Pyongyang to shut its nuclear program.
Source: Putin says U.S. guarantees unlikely to prompt North Korea to de-nuclearize – Reuters
The U.S. Congress does not arrest and detain people for ignoring its subpoenas anymore, but it still has significant power to demand witnesses and documents, and Republican President Donald Trump is putting that power to the test.
The Supreme Court said in an 1821 case that Congress has the “inherent authority” to arrest and detain recalcitrant witnesses.
Source: Explainer: Congress no longer runs a jail, so just how powerful are its subpoenas? – Reuters
The struggle between House Democrats and the Trump administration over investigations intensified as a former White House official defied a subpoena and the Treasury Department ignored a deadline for providing President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
“It appears that the president believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House, that he may order officials at will to violate their legal obligations, and that he may obstruct attempts by Congress to conduct oversight,” Cummings, D-Md., said in a statement.
Source: House Democrats wrestle with White House over investigations
The White House will soon unveil its plan for managing data within and across agencies, as well as guidance for recently passed legislation, per top two IT officials in the administration’s tech management policy office.
“In the data space, we have a lot more to do,” Federal CIO Suzette Kent said at an April 24 event hosted by AFCEA.
Source: OMB previews next steps on data policy — FCW